OXFORD: Farooq Hamid Naek, speaking at Pakistan Young Leaders Conference at the Oxford University, asserted that over the past three years since the present democratic government came into power, it has repositioned and rejuvenated Pakistan into a strong and vibrant country, which is playing a pivotal role for peace, security and development in its neighbourhood.“The important transformation that has come about in Pakistan has been possible as a result of our government’s policies aimed at multi-dimensional and broad-based structural reforms covering the political, economic and social sectors.
Despite our challenges, we are now moving rapidly on the path of progress and prosperity,” he told the conference organised by National Union of Pakistani Students and Alumni (NUPSA) here last evening. Mr. Naek said by offering an olive branch to political opponents, burying past hatchets and pursuing the policy of reconciliation and national consensus as espoused by Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, a new beginning has been made in the country’s political, democratic, parliamentary and legislative history.
He mentioned that when the government came to power in 2008 through popular vote, the key challenges included complete democratization of the State, clearing vestiges of authoritarianism, de-talibanization of the society, coping with repercussions of Pakistan’s frontline role in war on terror, restoring the cohesion of the fractured Federation, maintaining rule of law and state’s writ, independence of judiciary and supremacy of parliament, restoration of constitution in its original form bereft of the aberrations introduced by the dictators, and macroeconomic stabilization of the country.
The Senate Chairman related most of Pakistan’s problems and consternations to the years of dictatorial rule and regressive short-sighted policies, which all aimed at perpetuating a one-man authoritarian rule that strangled progress and perpetuated anarchy. However, he stated that the 2008 general elections marked a watershed in Pakistan ’s democratic history, depicting deliverance of Pakistani nation from the dark night of dictatorial chaos into the dawn of promising and reassuring democracy.
But that, he added came at a price with the tragic assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto which posed a great setback to the nascent democratic revival, and the fight against merchants of death, destruction and chaos.
“To Pakistani nation, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto represented hope and a future separate from a culture that seeks to drown people in the past. She was willing to lay down her life for what she believed in for the better future of a democratic, progressive and moderate Pakistan ,” Mr. Naek said.
The Chairman also dwelt on Pakistan ’s all pressing challenges and said economic revival was of foremost importance.
Pakistan’s economy was under enormous stress when the People’s Government took charge in March 2008. The state of economy called for difficult decisions and courageous actions. “The prudent policies adopted by the present government minimized the effects of this economic downturn, thereby mitigating its implications for the commonman.”
Now, he stated a new economic growth strategy is being pursued, which seeks to foster sustainable and more equitable growth by means of structural improvements in the productive sectors of Pakistan ’s economy, and encouraging foreign investment through special incentives.
Mr.Naek said extremism and militancy remains another paramount challenge.Pakistan, he added, has been at the forefront of the global campaign against terrorism for the last decade. “We are not fighting this war for Pakistan ’s survival alone; we are fighting this war for the whole humanity.”
Last summer devastating floods, he said, was another major crisis to hit Pakistan . Despite the massive scale of national disaster, people of Pakistan remain resolute in their determination to over come these challenges. Mr. Naek thanked the international community which gave full support in providing relief to flood stricken Pakistanis.
On militancy, Chairman, Senate, said President Asif Ali Zardari is firm in his commitment that Pakistan will not relent until it has purged its soil of these transnational bandits, who are using the name of Islam as a smoke-screen to carry out their subversive designs.
“Our message to terrorists is loud and clear. We would not allow our territory to be used by terrorists and will not be daunted by their threats. While Pakistan is extending cooperation in its international fight against terrorism, it will not allow foreign troops to operate inside its territory. Action in Pakistan ’s territory is the sole prerogative of Pakistani Armed Forces.”
Mr. Naek also informed the conference about the achievements of the Government regarding the 18th amendment, the 7th National Finance Commission Award, Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, and empowerment of people of Gilgit-Baltistan through Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009., empowerment of women, and Benazir Income Support Program. On the foreign policy front, too, he said, Pakistan seeks to strengthen good relations with all its neighbours, including India and Afghanistan .
The foreign policy objectives of the present government, the Chairman, Senate, mentioned are to promote regional and international peace and security, and ensure the economic and social development of our people. “Peace in Pakistan is interlinked with peace in Afghanistan and vice versa. The solution lies in dialogue and regional approach to the problem involving all stakeholders. We will continue to seek peaceful settlement of all outstanding disputes with India , including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir , through sustained dialogue,” he emphasised.